Sigma Xi Virtual Pizza Lunch: Understanding viral infections

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Welcome to the Sigma Xi Pizza Lunch! The events are virtual for now, so BYOP (Bring Your Own Pizza), and we'll provide a great speaker.

About this Event

In light of COVID-19, we will continue to have virtual pizza lunch lectures.

Please follow this link to join the talk:

This time we'll be speaking with independent virologist and cell biologist Efraín Rivera-Serrano.

Through the Looking Glass: illuminating the micro-world to understand viral infections

Viruses are ubiquitous in nature and can be found freely disseminated in nearly every ecosystem and in intimate association with the cells they infect. Unable to multiply by division like all units of life do, these subcellular agents rely entirely on host cells as a source of both biomolecules and a micro-environment suitable for their replication. Due to this extreme dependence for cellular factors, targeting viral infections with drugs that have minimal effects on the host has proven to be challenging. The use of advanced microscopy tools has illuminated our understanding of infection dynamics and revealed key steps by which viruses manipulate their host cell suitable for the development of antivirals. This presentation will provide the basics of what happens when a virus finds a target cell, how our cells respond to stop the virus, and present examples of how both infected and uninfected cells within a tissue can act in concert to orchestrate antiviral defenses critical for the outcome of a viral infection.  

Bio: Efraín ("Efra") Rivera-Serrano is a virologist and cell biologist who specializes in the use of advanced microscopy tools to visualize and understand the interplay between a virus and its host cell during an infection. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in plant cell biology from NC State University. His doctoral training at NC State University focused on understanding how cardiac cells protect themselves against viral infections and how viruses counteract these responses to successfully replicate in the heart. Efra continued his virology training as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying how the hepatitis A virus enters and is released from human cells; and later on at the University of California, Davis developing genetic tools identify host genes important for viral replication. He recently decided to leave the ‘lab bench’ to focus on science communication through social media and freelance science writing.

Because this month's talk is a virtual event, we will skip the speed networking and get straight to business. We hope you will eat pizza at home as we all come together as a community while keeping a safe distance. There is no deadline to RSVP because it is BYOP (bring your own pizza).

Here again is the link to join the talk:

Sigma Xi's Pizza Lunch speaker series is free and open to science journalists and science communicators of all stripes, as well as any interested members of the public. Feel free to extend this invitation to anyone who might want to attend.

The science talk may also be live streamed on Sigma Xi’s Facebook page, pending approval of the speaker. You can watch live or find the recording at

Did you miss some past pizza lunch talks? Check out our videos and podcasts of previous speakers: are co-organized with Science Communicators of North Carolina (SCONC). The RTP chapter of Sigma Xi is a co-organizer and co-sponsor, and encourages any interested scientists to get involved with the chapter and its upcoming events.

Please RSVP to this event using your own personal email (not a listserv email, etc.), which will be used solely to send reminders for the event. We will not keep your email unless you have requested to be added to the pizza lunch list (a button to be added is available on the registration page).PLEASE RSVP ONLY ONCE. We've found that Eventbrite will let you sign up multiple times even if you have already RSVP'd.

If you wish to be removed from this list, please email lutkoski-at-sigmaxi-dot-org. This list is opt-in only, so you're receiving this message because you asked to be on this list. If you are a Sigma Xi member and need to update your location or contact information with Sigma Xi, please email membership-at-sigmaxi-dot-org.

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